From 1979 to around 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was embroiled in a theological-political controversy that resulted in conservatives gaining control of the denomination's various entities. The winners call this period the "Conservative Resurgence." But all is not well for contemporary Southern Baptists. Conservatives debate issues such as the emerging church movement(s), Calvinism, private prayer languages, and the finer points of Baptist ecclesiology.
Annual baptism statistics have remained relatively steady for several decades, despite substantial American population growth. Studies show that less than 40 percent of the convention's 16 million members attend worship regularly. Statistics also point to a plateau in membership, including a decline in total membership in 2006. Some observers believe these facts undermine the validity of the Resurgence.
David Dockery, however, is not one of them, though he is concerned about the SBC's future. Dockery is a product of the Resurgence. He has served in a number of denominational posts, including his current position as president of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. His new book, Southern Baptist Consensus and Renewal: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Proposal, attempts to build upon the foundation of the Resurgence while addressing some of the most hotly debated questions in the contemporary SBC. Dockery's goal is to unify post-Resurgence Southern Baptists by proposing a theological and methodological consensus. He says, "It is now time to move from controversy and confusion to a new consensus and a renewed commitment to collaborative cooperation."
And indeed, his book provides help for any denomination seeking renewal. A key point in the book is finding ...1